Last weekend my family and I went to an exhibit of samurai at our local art museum downtown. I’ve long had a fascination with the samurai culture and their armor/weapons so I was excited to go. It was a great show with an extensive amount of items in the collection which was on special loan from a private collector. I don’t remember all the details, but they have one of the largest personal collections. Some of the pieces there can’t be found anywhere else.
It was one of those shows where you had to buy a ticket for a time slot. My wife got us tickets for the earliest time available and we were literally standing by the door when they opened. This allowed us to have the place almost to ourselves for a while with the exception of a handful of others. This was great because it wasn’t crowded and we could take our time and enjoy the exhibit. I don’t like crowds, especially in a place like a museum, so it was great to be able to go at our own pace and not have to dodge out of the way of random kids scurrying about or grandma with her walker.
The amount of detail that went into the armor and weapons was pretty amazing. The level of craftsmanship is incredible and being able to walk around the pieces, most of which were in free standing glass cases, was great. I think that the most impressive display was the one where they had samuri mounted on horse back. It gave a great perspective of what it must’ve been like to see them charging across the battlefield at you.
The other thing that surprised me was the suit of child’s armor. It was made for a 12 year old boy. It makes sense that they started training at the age of six. I think that the child’s armor said a lot about their culture. How many six year olds do you know today that would have the ability to endure the discipline and training of becoming a samurai?
The show also included a free audio tour which I normally don’t like, but it was well done. In particular I liked the fact that they had a ‘family’ verision and a ‘serious’ verision. Personally, I thought that the ‘family’ one was a lot of fun with the sound effects and the narrator’s style. Plus, it was informative and engaging.
The end of the show leads you straight into the gift shop (of course!). I ended up buying the book Samurai & Ninja by Anthony Cummins. It’s a nonfiction book that seperates the Hollywood/American myth of the warriors from the historical truth. I’ve only begun reading it but it is a great read. What I like is that Cummins takes on some very complex issues (the samurai existed for a thousand years) and presents it in a manner that’s entertaining and educational. If you have an interest in that type of history I’d suggest checking it out.
Below are a few photos I took during the show. Enjoy!